As one U.S. state after the next legalizes online sports and casino gambling, a real power struggle has developed for market share dominance by a small group of top online gambling operators.

About half of the states are already taking retail and or online sports bets. Players are betting billions of dollars throughout the country on a monthly basis. This should surprise no one. Experts predicted several years ago that U.S. sports bettors were wagering upwards of $150 billion a year offshore or through illegal sports betting operations (bookies). Now the gloves have been removed and at least half the population is legally wagering on sports. It has become a real possibility that in time the sports betting handle in America could exceed $300 billion a year.

The Battle for Market Share

With so much money from sports betting revenue on the line, the competition for market share has become fierce. The competition has brought together U.S.- based operators like Fanduel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and WynnBet to compete with European-based operators like William Hill (recently acquired by Caesars International), Bet365, Unibet, and 888 Sport.

The acquisition of William Hill by Caesars is of particular interest. It indicates that the larger bookmakers are willing to spend big sums to gobble up the smaller bookmakers in an effort to increase exposure and market share.

Of course, it might seem ridiculous to refer to William Hill as a smaller Bookmaker. After all, the publicly traded British company has been the top retail bookmaker in Europe for close to 87 years. The $3.7 billion Caesars ponied up for the purchase confirms that. Moving forward, Caesars will be selling off all the William Hill European gambling assets. In other words the purchase was for the sole purpose of boosting Caesar’s market share in the U.S.

In the near future, the industry could experience more acquisitions as the industry continues to explode. No one would be surprised to see former Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) adversaries Fanduel and DraftKings making plays for smaller bookmakers like Unibet, BetRivers, or even TwinSpires.

Current Industry Leadership

In the U.S. sports betting industry, Fanduel stands alone as the top retail/online bookmaker. It holds a significant lead over DraftKings and BetMGM. It should not surprise anyone that Fanduel is making hay within the industry given the company’s pedigree.

Fanduel is currently owned by a company named Flutter. Flutter was formed from a merger that includes Paddy Power (one of Europe’s most powerful gambling conglomerates). It also owns Betfair, the leading betting exchange betting company in the world. Flutter is also the owner of the Stars Group since 2020. That acquisition gave the company ownership of PokerStars, the largest online poker group in the world.

With this kind of pedigree, it’s going to be difficult for DraftKings and BetMGM to move up without making major acquisitions of their own. There have been rumors that Flutter is conspiring to take Fanduel public in the near future.

DraftKings and BetMGM

Last year, DraftKings went public under the ticker symbol DKNG. After the public offering, the company ended up with a valuation of around $6 billion. Based on market share, revenue, and reputation, that would put Fanduel’s valuation somewhere between $8 billion and $12 billion. None of these numbers are bad for two companies that started as DFS providers. Both only jumped into the sports betting realm about three years ago. It further confirms the potential of the sports betting industry in America.

As for BetMGM, they have been making significant progress towards the top over the last two years. Currently, the sports betting operator is providing sports betting services in 11 legal states with at least 3 others in waiting. DraftKings is also available in 11 states with Fanduel leading the way at 18 states, though 6 of those states only have retail sports betting.

We already know that all three bookmakers are ready to roll in Arizona and Louisiana before the start of the 2021 NFL regular season.

Next year, the market share battle will continue as Ohio, North Carolina, and perhaps Florida may start taking bets by mid-year. As things stand, DraftKings is looking over its shoulder nervously as BetMGM gains momentum. For American sports bettors the heated competition is great news as it leads to more and more lucrative welcome bonuses.